PRELUDE – “All My Hope”by David Crowder

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP –

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,

and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

let the field exult, and everything in it!

Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord,

for he comes to judge the earth.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

for his steadfast love endures forever!

 

Song –

How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, and Jesse Reeves

 

CONFESSION OF SIN  –

 

Jesus, forgive my sins.

Forgive the sins that I remember, and the sins I have forgotten.

Forgive my many failures in the face of temptation,

and those times when I have been stubborn in the face of correction.

Forgive the times I have been proud of my own achievements

and those when I have failed to boast in your works.

Forgive the harsh judgments I have made of others,

and the leniency I have shown myself.

Forgive the lies I have told to others,

and the truths I have avoided.

Forgive me the pain I have caused others

and the indulgence I have shown myself.

Jesus, have mercy on me and make me whole.

Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON –

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity

and passing over transgression

for the remnant of his inheritance?

He does not retain his anger forever,

because he delights in steadfast love.

He will again have compassion on us;

he will tread our iniquities underfoot.

You will cast all our sins

into the depths of the sea.

You will show faithfulness to Jacob

and steadfast love to Abraham,

as you have sworn to our fathers

from the days of old.

Songs –

You Alone Can Rescue” by Matt Redman

How Great Thou Art” by Stuart K. Hine

 

PRAYER

 

CHILDREN’S BLESSING & DISMISSAL – Romans 5:8

 

SCRIPTURE READING – Jonah 1 and 2

 

SERMON – “Deep Sin, Deep Grace”

 

LORD’S TABLE

 

Songs –

Before the Throne of God Above” by Charitie Lees Bancroft and Vikki Cook

Behold the Risen Christ” by The Village Church

 

OFFERING Song –

Sing to the King” by Billy Foote

 

 

BENEDICTION

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

POSTLUDE – “My Life is an Offering” by Sovereign Grace Music

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Entertainment”

October 30, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #140 “When Morning Gilds the Skies” & #47 “Fairest Lord Jesus”

Testimonies – What’s some way that you have seen God moving in our body lately?

Teaching

Recap & Intro

So we’re basically talking about holiness, how we as God’s people, saved by grace, are to think and act differently from the world around us. We’re aliens and strangers. Which means we will stand out, be weird, yet in a way that is winsome, still engaged with the world. Jesus wants us to understand the world, to be savvy with the world, without getting sucked into the world in the least. Totally in, totally different. There are people who are totally weird because they live in a bubble. Then there are Christians who say, “We need to get out of the bubble,” but then start absorbing the world’s ethos. We want to stay weird, but be winsome.

That means we live under God’s authority and for his glory, in a world that lives from Self and for Self. It means we’ll be winsomely weird in the way we talk and relate. It means we won’t get drunk with wine or high on pot, but be filled with the Spirit. And last week we saw that we will be a winsomely weird community in the way that we care for the weak and vulnerable and those that the world sees no value in; we care about all of life from the womb to the tomb. And we will die differently than the world does. We will die in peace, trusting God, okay with weakness and dependence. That’s a major way we will be weird to the world.

Today we’re talking about entertainment. This one is so important because it’s probably the primary instrument that the world uses to promote worldliness. We must be thoughtful here. Leland Ryken wrote a book a while back called Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure. In it he lamented that often “we worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.” We’re all mixed up. So let’s try to think clearly about this topic.

Work

First, we need to establish that we were made to work. Work is good. God created the world and made humans in his image to cultivate it and care for it. That is the genesis of every valid profession. We are to be active creating, cultivating, organizing, operating… This is supposed to take up the bulk of our time.

There are all the admonitions in the Proverbs against laziness (i.e. Prov. 26:13-16). There are statements in Paul’s writings like: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28). “Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you” (1Thess. 4:11). “We hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2Thess. 3:11-12).

So a good chunk of our time must be taken up with work. Work is not an unfortunate thing, a necessary evil, but it’s good and God-honoring. I hope to talk more about this on another night. But let me just add: when we work, we should work hard and buckle down and focus so that work doesn’t expand and creep into all of our life because we’re also supposed to rest.

Rest

The Bible puts a limit to work to keep us human and humble; to keep us from thinking that we are just machines and that we are able to keep the universe running ourselves. God puts limits to work. The most obvious is the Sabbath – one day in seven to cease your productivity and enjoy (i.e. Ex. 20:8). But also yearly rhythms of celebrating (Lev. 23:33-36). And also the daily need for sleep. By and large, he made the day for work and the night for sleep (Mk. 4:27). Psalm 127:2 – “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” God made us to need sleep, to remind us that we’re not God and as way to declare our trust in God to keep the world spinning (he does not slumber or sleep; Ps. 121:4). Most of us need 7-8 hours a day to function well.

So two main categories to our days: Work and Rest. We keep them separate and balanced; the world blends them and has them all out of whack (i.e. workaholics or playaholics). But if we work, let’s say 12 hours a day on average (I’m including in that your job, housework, making meals, giving kids baths, etc…) and sleep 8 hours a day, that leaves roughly 4 waking hours in a day in the category of Rest. How are we to use that time as believers in ways that are weird to the world? Time when we’re not ‘getting things done’; let’s call this sub-category of Rest – Leisure.

Bible Reading, Prayer, Meditation. Christians spend time regularly and daily focusing on the Lord. This is weird to the world. Remember how I mentioned a few weeks ago that the way we give of our finances limits the disposable income we have to spend on things like alcohol? So just won’t be able to drink like the world because we give away a significant percentage of our money. It’s similar here. We spend a significant portion of our leisure time reading the Bible, praying, meditating, which simply means we will not have as much time for the other stuff.

Similarly, we are committed to a community. So we will be at Sunday gatherings and Midweek Meetings. That’s takes time. And beyond that there is relationship building – meeting up with a brother or sister for accountability, encouragement, fellowship. Calling and checking in. Bringing a meal. Working on relationships with spouses, roommates, kids, parents, friends… We’re always thinking of each other, even in our leisure time, whereas the world is thinking of Leisure time as Me Time.

Then with what’s left, what are some other good uses of our Leisure??

Exercise/Physical Activity.

Hobbies. I encourage you to try to use your hobbies for fellowship and/or evangelism…

Read. When is the last time you’ve read a book? How about a book that stirred your soul and strengthened your faith? When are you going to do that? Paul writes to Timothy – “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books” (2Tim. 4:13). Listen to Spurgeon on that verse:

Even an apostle must read…. He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! [….This] is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books” – join in the cry.

Diversify your leisure.

And what about Me Time? Can I have any time to just totally unplug and relax and have a diversion, some mindless break from all the exhaustion? Well… It depends. Unplug, but not from Christ. Relax, enjoy a non-utilitarian pursuit, but not apart from Christ. A break for the mind, but can never turn the mind totally off. What about Self-Care, which is all the rage in the world today? Didn’t Jesus withdraw to desolate places by himself when exhausted? Yes! We need time away. But look at Mark 6:30… First off, their Me Time was We Time… But what happened to it? It got interrupted. So, yes, you can take time away, but don’t make of it an idol; don’t let it become an excuse to be selfish; and see it in the larger picture of replenishing you for a return to greater engagement and service.

And now here’s what is in my mind the area we need to think through the most: what about Screen Time? We live in a world largely dominated by the image and the screen: tv and phones. Discussions about Entertainment in the past were geared around the theater, the coliseum, the pool hall… stuff you had to go to. But now we have access to entertainment at our finger tips 24/7. It distracts us at work. It keeps us from sleep. And it seeks to dominates our leisure time.

If you have kids or when you have kids, do you want them to not know what an iPad is? No. But do you want them to watch iPad all the time? No. Why do we limit screen time for our kids? Because it may make your life easier for an hour, but it makes them more selfish, whiny, discontent, bored, less imaginative… In excess, screen time sucks life out of kids and rots their brains.

And it can do the same with us. A quick look at Twitter can turn into 30 minutes easily and it can make you more anxious. Scrolling through Instagram makes you jealous of other people’s lives. Surfing YouTube reduces your attention span. Binging on Netflix numbs you to the real world. It’s alarming when the goal of our days, the thing we’re looking forward to is: get home and get the kids in bed so I can watch my show. We need to be very careful with the amount of time we watch. The world is watching a lot of Screen Time; we should be weird.

Entertainment is by nature Self-focused. It’s designed to serve you. You don’t have to do anything to make it happen, just sit back and passively be pleased. Is that always wrong? No. But we must be careful that it doesn’t feed Selfishness.

A lot of those same questions we asked with substance you take into your body, are good questions to ask with what we take into our eyes and minds: is it legal, is it necessary, is it good, is it healthy, is it an addiction, intoxicating, an idol, wise?

Some more suggestions for our Screen Time:

Do it with others. What if we were watching some of the same shows and then discussing them? So it wasn’t just a private thing. What if we even turned our watching into social get-togethers? We do it for the Super Bowl, why not other shows? At the very least what if you watched with your spouse or your roommates, so there was accountability and it didn’t isolate but brought together?

Do it for others. Watch what your co-workers are talking about to understand them. Watch what gets nominated for Oscars to be able to engage the world.

Do it with God. Always, do everything with a conscious awareness of God’s presence. You can’t turn your mind off and veg and passively take in what Hollywood is feeding you. You have to think critically. Measure everything by God’s Word. If there is common grace there, praise God. If there is beauty there, worship God. If there is sin there, hate it and thank God for forgiveness and the promise of a new world without sin. Turn it all back to God. Watch it as a Christian, filtering everything through the lens of Scripture.

We’ve been watching Disney’s Liv and Maddie as a family lately. Thinking about this upcoming talk I started having everyone share a biblical principle (positive or negative) that they saw illustrated in an episode. Andrea and I have been watching The West Wing for the last couple years. It’s a well-written show that has lessons about leadership, work, relationships… but it’s also trying to shape the way you think about social issues. We have to be discerning…

And what is off-limits? Pornography. Game of Thrones? VidAngel. …

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Gender, Sexuality, & Family; Fitness; Work, Money, & Possessions; Politics…

Prayer – If you had to pick one of these, which of the following would you prefer to do tonight before bed: (1) Watch a re-run of Parks & Rec; (2) watch the World Series Game 7; (3) play Super Smash Brothers; (4) or listen to Kanye’s new album. Get together in those groups and pray…

Repent of ways that you have had more of an appetite for the things of this world than Christ…

Pray that we would look carefully how we walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil (Eph. 5:15-16)…

Pray that we would learn how to understand the longings and brokenness of this world and better connect them to Christ for people…

PRELUDE – “A Mighty Fortress”by Martin Luther

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

How does Christ’s return “to judge the living and the dead” comfort you?

In all distress and persecution,

with uplifted head I confidently await the very judge

who has already offered himself to the judgment of God in my place

and removed the whole curse from me.

Christ will cast all his enemies and mine into everlasting condemnation,

but will take me and all his chosen ones to himself into the joy and glory of heaven.

 

Song –

“O Worship the King”by Chris Tomlin, Johann Michael Hayden, Robert Grant

 

CONFESSION OF SIN

“Hear this pronouncement of judgement in Romans 2:6-11:

 

He will render to each one according to his works:

to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality,

he will give eternal life;

but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

There will be tribulation and distress

for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,

but glory and honor and peace

for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.

For God shows no partiality.

 

In light of God’s coming, let’s take a moment to confess our sins before our holy judge.”

ASSURANCE OF PARDON  – Psalm 32:1-2

“If we by faith embrace salvation in Christ, the Lord declares over us:

 

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,

whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man whom the LORD counts no iniquity,

and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

 

Songs –

You Are My King (Amazing Love)” by Billy J. Foote

O Praise the Name (Anástasis)” by Benjamin Hastings, Dean Ussher, and Marty Sampson

 

PRAYER

 

CHILDREN’S BLESSING & DISMISSAL  – Romans 5:8

 

SCRIPTURE READING – Obadiah

 

SERMON  – “The Day of the Lord is Near Upon All Nations”

 

LORD’S TABLE

 

Songs –

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” by Louisa M. R. Stead and William James Kirkpatrick

In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

OFFERING

Song –

Let Your Kingdom Come” by Bob Kauflin

 

BENEDICTION

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

POSTLUDE – “O Church Arise” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Bioethics”

October 23, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #291 “Be Still, My Soul” & #336 “My Jesus, I Love Thee”

Testimonies – What is something from Amos that God has used in your heart and life?

Teaching

Recap

Are you willing to be weird for Jesus?

Can you do it in a way that is winsome? That doesn’t unnecessarily turn off people to Jesus? 1 Peter 2:12 – “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable.”

We saw that the world is living from SELF (I am my own authority) and for SELF (what’s in it for me?). We, on the other hand, by God’s grace in Christ, have been freed from SELF to live under God’s authority and for God’s glory.

Last week we saw that when it comes to drugs and alcohol, the world mainly asks, “How does it make me feel?” But we ask a series of questions like: Is it legal? Is it necessary? Is it good? Is it healthy? Is it addictive? Is it intoxicating? Is it an idol? And is it wise? Were there any further thoughts on that??

One way I was thinking about all of this recently was that I want us to not look up to the world – “Oh… they’re sooo cool. I wish I could be like them.” But I also don’t want us to look down on the world – “I can’t believe they do that…” I want us to look on those in the world as fellow humans with love and empathy…

Intro

That applies to tonight’s topic too. We’re looking at how we are to be winsomely weird when it comes to bioethical issues, mostly questions revolving around beginning of life and end of life, but also what lengths we will go to in order to increase quality of life. I want to think of it first as patients and parents and regular people. And then think of it from the perspective of health-care providers.

And before that I want to start by reading this quote from the beginning of this book [Gilbert Meilaender, Bioethics: A Primer for Christians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013 [1996]), 1]:

How we understand… the [bioethical] situations we encounter… will depend on background beliefs that we bring to moral reflection – beliefs about the meaning of human life, the significance of suffering and dying, and the ultimate context in which to understand our being and doing. Our views on such matters are shaped by reasoned argument and reflection less often than we like to imagine. Our background beliefs are commonly held at a kind of prearticulate level. We take them in with the air we breathe, drink them in from the surrounding culture. It is, therefore, useful sometimes to call to mind simply and straightforwardly certain basic elements in a Christian vision of the world – to remind ourselves of how contrary to the assumptions of our culture that vision may be.

The World’s Assumptions vs. The Christian Vision

So what are the key assumptions that the world brings to bioethical debates? What is the air we breathe? What do we need to be aware of drinking in from the surrounding culture? I’m sure there is much more than this, but I thought of six big ones:

1.) Independence and self-fulfillment are chief values.

2.) Personhood and worth comes from capabilities and productivity.

3.) This life is all there is or everyone is guaranteed an afterlife.

4.) God isn’t there or doesn’t care.

5.) Suffering is to be avoided at all costs.

6.) Science can (eventually) solve everything.

Independence and self-fulfillment are chief values of the world. We are taught to be strong and see ourselves as autonomous. No one tells me what to do. I don’t need someone else. And I certainly can’t be obligated to do something that I don’t want to do. I don’t care what they say, this is my life. We’ve been through some of this before, but we need to see how pervasive this mindset is and how ingrained it is into us.

The Christian vision, on the other hand, holds up community and caring for others as chief values. From the beginning we see that “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Humans are social creatures, interrelated and interdependent on each other, and all utterly dependent on God (cf. 1Cor. 11:11-12). Sin isolates us and turns us in on ourselves. But God’s work of redemption brings us together and makes us need each other and consider how our actions affect others. We don’t lose our individuality, but we are individuals bound in relationship.

And Christians are to be known for their love, compassion, and care for one another. Like our Savior, we sacrifice for others instead of using others for our own gain. We have experienced grace and so we give grace. Which gets into the next one…

The world sees personhood and worth as coming from capabilities and productivity. You are what you do. Value is achieved. The world fawns over the famous, the smart, the strong, the beautiful, the important and looks past the small, the slow, the weak, the ugly, and those who don’t or won’t contribute much. In the world there is no real place for mercy, just merit.

Christians, however, know that dignity is inherent to embodied human existence and value doesn’t come from what you do. In creation God bestows value on every human being, no matter rich or poor, young or old. And in redemption we see that “it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Rom. 9:16; NASB). The gospel tells us that our identity does not come from our works but from Christ’s work for us. In Christianity valued is received, not achieved. And so Jesus touched the children and the lepers and Christianity defined pure religion as visiting “orphans and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27).

The early church was the island of misfit toys. And in Roman society there was a practice where unwanted or deformed babies could be ‘exposed’ – set out to die on a trash heap. Christians went and collected those discarded babies and cared for them, not because of what the babies would do for them, but because all of life is precious. That’s winsomely weird to the world.

Third, the world sees this life as all there is or says that everyone is guaranteed a good afterlife. Have you ever heard He’s not suffering any more or she’s in a better place? These unsubstantiated sayings are thrown around flippantly.

But as Christians we live with eternity always in mind. We know that every person we meet is immortal. They will be raised either to everlasting punishment or to everlasting life (i.e. Jn. 5:28-29). There is something worse than death and that is hell; and there is something better than a fulfilled life here on earth, and that is heaven. And so this short life is not made the measure of all decision-making.

Fourth, the world says that God isn’t there or he doesn’t really care. The world has a nihilistic worldview. This is it and what you make of it is what counts. It’s a cold hard place; you’ve got to make your own meaning of it. And what you are dealt is a fluke of nature.

But the Bible tells us that there is a good and sovereign God who is superintending everything. There is a Divine Author. We are not writing the story of our lives. We are not a product of chance in a meaningless void. Nothing is an accident.

And so that means that (#5) suffering can have a purpose. Suffering itself is not good and we don’t seek it out, but a good and sovereign God can work good from it. He brought the greatest good out of the greatest suffering at the Cross. And so with a Savior who sympathizes and the promise of a loving heavenly Father, we can endure suffering with trust in him.

The world on the other hand says that suffering is to be avoided at all costs. Since we’re not in the caring hands of an all-good, all-wise, all-powerful God, all we can do is whatever we can to eliminate our suffering. The world doesn’t see a potential redemptive purpose to suffering.

Finally, the world has faith that Science can (eventually) solve everything. It is hubris, a high view of humanity apart from God. But we know that there are mysteries beyond us and we are content to trust God and not try to be God. Science in its place is good; we’re not anti-Science. But we’re anti-Science-instead-of-God.

Abortion

So with all that in mind, let’s talk about some specific topics. Of course, we are not going to be able to come up with a definitive answer for every imaginable scenario, but hopefully get you thinking about how to be winsomely weird when it comes to these issues.

Abortion. The Bible clearly prohibits murder. And it also talks a lot about life in the womb (i.e. Ps. 139:13; Jer. 1:5; Lk. 1:44). We now know from science that this happens when a father’s sperm and mother’s egg unite. Look at a baby… Would it be okay to kill him today? How about yesterday? How about the day before? How about at birth? How about the day before that? The day before that?…. The day before that….?….

Not all, but a significant number of abortions occur because pregnancy clashes with the chief values of independence and self-fulfillment. And we rationalize it because we deem the fetus a non-person because it can’t think or do something that adds value. But instead we are to see these as the weakest members of our human community that call for our care and protection.

In Vitro Fertilization

What about IVF?…

Euthanasia

There was an opinion piece in the New York Times this last weekend by Lyndsay Werking-Yip. The title was, “I Had a Late-Term Abortion. I Am Not a Monster.” A non-Christian friend sent it to me and asked me what I thought. Here’s a segment:

My husband and I chose to end our child’s life. Many imagine this as an impossible decision to make, one that would take hours of deliberation. I will be honest with you. You may not want to hear this, but the decision was obvious to us. Our child would not be given a life of pain and suffering…. I do not regret the decision we made. Within 15 minutes of the diagnosis [of severe brain malformation], we knew what we had to do: We would become baby killers…. I want people to know: I ended my child’s life. At 23 weeks and six days into my pregnancy, I had a ‘late term’ abortion. When people ask, ‘How could you?’ I reply that allowing her to live would have been a fate worse than death. Her diagnosis was not fatal, not incompatible with the bare mechanics of a living body. But it was incompatible with a fulfilling life. And that makes all the difference to me

What do you think? Isn’t this a much more beautiful picture? https://erlc.com/resource-library/event-messages/testimony-choosing-life

Today on NPR I heard the story of Marieke Vervoort, who died by physician assisted suicide yesterday… https://www.bbc.com/sport/disability-sport/50145393

For Providers…

What issues are you facing? Are you willing to be so weird that you lose your medical license?

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Entertainment; Gender, Sexuality, & Family; Fitness; Work, Money, & Possessions…

Prayer – Get in groups the following groups: (1) doctors or doctors in training, (2) other medical professionals and those in training, (3) those in non-medical fields who have been to a hospital/doctor’s office in the last 10 months, (4) those in non-medical fields who have not been to a hospital/doctor’s office in the last 10 months…

Repent of ways that you have bought into the world’s lies about the meaning of life and pray for courage to stand with God’s truth…

Pray that IBC would be a loving place of interdependence where all of life is valued and members are cared for…

Pray for opportunities to speak of the hope of the gospel in bioethical conversations…

PRELUDE – “Instead of a Show” by Jon Foreman

 

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

“Let’s come together.”

“Hear this call to worship from “Psalm 95.”

 

Song –

Crown Him With Many Crowns” by George Job Elvey, Godfrey Thring, and

Matthew Bridges

 

CONFESSION OF SIN –

Hear this prayer of confession in Nehemiah 1:5-6

O Lord God of heaven,

the great and awesome God

who keeps covenant and steadfast love

with those who love him and keep his commandments,

let your ear be attentive and your eyes open,

to hear the prayer of your servant

that I now pray before you day and night

for the people of Israel your servants,

confessing the sins of the people of Israel,

which we have sinned against you.

 

“In light of the ways we too have disregarded the laws of the Lord, let us take a

moment to confess our sins to our God who is faithful to redeem the outcast.”

 

ASSURANCE OF PARDON – “Listen to this assurance of pardon from 1 Peter 2:9”

But you are a chosen race,

a royal priesthood,

a holy nation,

a people for his own possession,

that you may proclaim the excellences of him

who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Once you were not a people,

but now you are God’s people;

once you had not received mercy,

but now you have received mercy.”

 

Songs –

Give Us Clean Hands” by Charlie Hall

No Longer Slaves” byBrian Johnson, Joel Case, and Jonathan David Helser

 

PRAYER

CHILDREN’S BLESSING & DISMISSAL – Romans 5:8

SCRIPTURE READING –Amos 9:1-15 have people stand

SERMON – “Destruction and Restoration”

LORD’S TABLE

 

Song(s) –

Before the Throne of God Above”by Charitie Lees Bancroft and Vikki Cook

Be Unto Your Name” by Gary Sadler and Lynn DeShazo

 

OFFERING

 

Song –

We Will Feast in the House of Zion” byJoshua Moore and Sandra McCracken

 

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE – “So Will I” by 100 Billion X

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Drugs & Alcohol”

October 16, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #364 “Like a River Glorious” & #366 “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”

Testimonies – Who has a story of being weird and/or winsome with the world lately?

Teaching

Recap

“For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles – when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation” (1Pe. 4:3-4; NKJV). The world will think we’re strange, weird, that we don’t do what they do.

But there’s a weird that’s just plain weird, and there’s a weird that’s intriguing, curious… winsome. That’s what we’re going for.

How are Christians winsomely weird when it comes to authority?? How about purpose?? What about speech; how do we talk differently than the world in a way that’s not nails on a chalkboard, but catches attention? What makes us stand out with regard to our relationships and conflict?

Introduction

Tonight we’re going to talk about drugs and alcohol. The world has a way of thinking about drinking. We as Christians should too… and it can’t just be the world’s; we can’t uncritically go right along with the world’s practices when it comes to alcohol. The world around us also has a way of thinking about pot. How are we supposed to think about that? That’s where we’re going to.

First, I just want to set forth a series of questions we need to ask with regard to anything kind of substance that we take into our bodies. The world pretty much just asks one question – Does this make me feel good? Or maybe, Does this make me look cool? We have to go deeper. Here are 8 questions I thought of:

(1) Is it legal? Romans 13:1 tells us that our general attitude is to “be subject to the governing authorities.” If a government says a particular food or drug is not safe, we better have a good reason to disobey them. Is it legal?

(2) Is it necessary? Is this something I need to live, like food and water? The Bible assumes that there are basic necessities that we need. 1 Timothy 6:8 – “If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Is it necessary?

(3) Is it good? Is this something I can ask God for and thank him for? Is this one of the good and perfect gifts from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17). Is it good?

(4) Is it healthy? “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1Cor. 6:19-20). Our bodies are not inconsequential. Matter matters. And so we should be good stewards of our physical health. Is it healthy?

(5) Is it an addiction? We must ask ourselves when it comes to anything we put into our bodies – can I say No? Or has this thing become my master? 1 Corinthians 6:12 – the Corinthians were saying, “All things are lawful for me,” but Paul said, “but I will not be dominated/enslaved by anything.” Is it an addiction? We’re not supposed to be addicted to anything.

(6) Is it intoxicating? Does it impair your ability to think and change your personality and make you lose control of yourself? In other words, does it make you not you, transcribe you into a different state that you return back from later? Does it do something unnatural to me? Does it have “a psychoactive affect… [on] brain function, resulting in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior?”[i] This concept comes from the Bible’s prolific treatment on alcohol, which we’ll look at in a second. Is it intoxicating?

(7) Is it an idol? Is your use of this created thing an escape from God? Are you turning to this thing instead of God for the things that you are supposed to look to God for?

(8) And then lastly there is the question – Is it wise? It may be legal, in the category of necessary, good, healthy, non-addictive, not intoxicating, and not an idol, but still not wise to partake of for different people in different situations.

Food

Okay, so let’s start by running food through these questions. Is food legal? Besides raw milk in certain states, I can’t really think of much that we would want to eat that was prohibited by law.

Is it necessary? Yes. Without food and water we will die. God made us to need it and so it’s not wrong to eat. In fact, it is right and good.

That’s the third question – is it good? In the New Covenant, there are no foods that are unclean (cf. Mk. 7:19). In 1 Timothy 4:4, talking about food, Paul says, “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” Jesus teaches us to pray – “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt. 6:11). You can eat and drink to the glory of God (1Cor. 10:31). “The Son of Man came eating and drinking” (Mt. 11:19). Food is good!

Is it healthy? This is where it starts to get tricky. Our understanding of health is regularly changing. But we generally know that an exclusive diet of sugar is bad for you. Proverbs 25:27 – “It is not good to eat much honey.” And to eat excessively (gluttony) is not good for you. But a well-balanced diet in moderation is healthy.

Which leads into the next question we have to ask when it comes to foods – Is it an addiction? Are we able to exercise self-control when it comes to eating? Can we go without sweats or meat for a while without being cranky and jittery? This is where fasting is helpful. Food is a necessity, so we need it in a sense, but do we neeeed it? “Is it an addiction?” is a helpful question to ask when you’re asking, “Should I eat this?”

Next, is food intoxicating? I suppose certain mushrooms might be psychedelic. But for the most part, food does not transform our character or radically alter our performance. I may be a little sleepy after eating a lot of turkey, but it’s not illegal to drive a car under the influence of turkey, and rightly so. I may run faster if I had a good breakfast, but the International Olympic Committee has not banned Nutrigrain bars? Food can make me feel better, but I’m still me after a meal.

Is food an idol? Not inherently. This gets to motivation. Philippians 3:19 talks about people for whom “their god is their belly.” Am I looking to ice cream to comfort me instead of the Lord? Or am I finding my righteousness in eating paleo? There are many ways our food consumption could be idolatrous.

And then there are endless other questions of wisdom. Do I need to become a foodie to win foodies (cf. 1Cor. 9:19-23)? Is shopping at Whole Foods the best use of my money? Is it unethical to eat chickens from farm factories? ??

Poison

Just for fun, let’s run arsenic through this. Is arsenic legal? Probably not; idk. It’s not necessary for survival, in fact the opposite: it kills. It’s not good. It’s not healthy. But here’s what it has going for it – it’s not addictive (as far as I know). I don’t know how to answer the intoxicating question. If it was taken in order to control one’s own death, I suppose you could say it was idolatrous. It’s safe to say that poison is not wise.

Alcohol

Okay, here we go. Alcohol: is it legal? Yes, for those 21 and older.

Is alcohol necessary? No. You can live a full life without ever tasting a drop of alcohol. One thinks of the Nazirite vows in the OT (cf. Nu. 6) and even Samson who was a Nazirite from birth (Jdgs. 13:2ff).

But are alcoholic drinks good? Yes, they are. Psalm 104 – “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (Ps. 104:14-15). Alcohol was used in OT worship celebrations (Dt. 14:26). Jesus provided wine for a wedding (Jn. 2:1ff) and used it in the institution of the Lord’s Supper.

Is alcohol consumption healthy? Well, Paul tells Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1Tim. 5:23). I’m not sure what the rationale was behind that. Alcohol has a germ killing quality and in some places it is healthier to drink than water. Some studies are showing certain medical benefits of moderate alcohol intake, such as reduced risk of heart disease. However, excessive alcohol use has a massive list of adverse health effects, including heart disease, cancer, liver damage…

That brings us to the question – is it an addiction? Alcohol has a powerful addictive potential, especially for certain people. Alcoholism is a very real problem that has destroyed many, many lives. It’s a cruel, cruel slave-master. The Bible is very clear that we are not to be drunkards (i.e. 1Cor. 6:10). If you have a drinking problem, you need to admit it and seek help. And if you are a recovering alcoholic you should stay far away from alcohol. And if you don’t have an issue now, you should be very careful that you don’t become addicted to alcohol.

Sixthly, is alcohol intoxicating? Yes, it has that chemical property. Unless you’re missing the enzyme to break down alcohol, you can have a drink (12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, 1 shot of liquor) and still be in control of all of your faculties. But multiple drinks move you beyond enjoying the pairing of a nice red with a steak and get you into the realm of intoxication. You act different. Your hand-eye coordination and reflex times are significantly affected. This is clearly off-limits according to the Bible. There are stories of bad things happening when people are drunk (i.e. Gen. 19:30-38). And there are verses like Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” Being influenced and controlled by alcohol is wrong. We should be under the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. And in Galatians 5 the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, but one of the works of the flesh is drunkenness (Gal. 5:21). So never drinking alcohol to the point of intoxication is a clear way that Christians will be weird to much of the world.

Is it an idol? It can definitely be. Most people drink in order to forget their problems; that is looking to alcohol for something you should look to God for. We drink in order to lighten up and have pleasure instead of finding pleasure in God. It’s also a way to dull the conscience and do and say the sinful things that are in your heart without a filter: anger, sex…

Is it wise? It depends on your genetics. Your finances – I think if you look at Christians’ budgets the amount of money we give away is about equivalent to the world’s entertainment budget, a big part of which will be alcohol. Drinking water saves big time on eating out and groceries so you can spend that money elsewhere. Something to consider. It depends on your upbringing and who is watching. Romans 14:21 says, “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.” Can you get drunk? No. Are you free to drink? Yes, but use your freedom wisely. If you don’t drink, don’t feel superior or self-righteous.

One thing I worry about is people who grew up in Christian contexts and for various reason are not that experienced with alcohol, going to another extreme in their 20s and making it an obsession. And why? I think it is largely because they are listening to the world tell them what is cool and desperately wanting to be cool. Magazines and movies portray drinking as cool, sophisticated, smart, fun… and too often Christians let the world tell them what is cool.

I went to a Christian college that required students to pledge not to drink alcohol. One summer I worked for a company selling books with several other students from our school. Some of us sold enough books to win a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, over Spring Break. We showed up and there the legal drinking age was 18. It was an ethical quandary. Several students were excited by the opportunity. One night we went on a booze cruise and everyone was getting sloshed. To be in the world meant going to the party. To be not of the world meant not getting drunk. And in this case not even drinking, because we had given our word that we wouldn’t. That made people curious and opened up conversations about Jesus. But one student from our school was wasted and ended the night making out on top of a girl on the beach. People noticed that too. Brothers and sisters: let’s be wise and winsomely weird when it comes to alcohol consumption.

Tobacco

Let’s quickly walk through the 8 questions with tobacco… What do you think? Is it legal, necessary, good, healthy, addictive, intoxicating, idolatrous? What does wisdom say?

Caffeine

What do you think?

Marijuana

Legal: starting January 1 if over 21.

Necessary: no

Good: maybe CBD??

Healthy: maybe CBD??

Addictive: yes

Intoxicating: This is the real issue. There is almost no way to ingest or inhale THC without getting high. And there’s really no reason to do it apart from the experience of being stoned. It takes somewhere around four beers to get drunk. And some people like the taste of a beer. But nobody is eating cannabis brownies for the taste. And it takes only four puffs of a joint to get high (less than 7 mg of THC). So… what does the Bible’s prohibition against getting drunk mean for Mary Jane??

Idol: yes

Wise: no…  medical??

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Entertainment, Gender, Sexuality, & Family, Bioethics, Fitness; Work, Money, & Possessions; Entertainment…

Prayer – Get in groups with those who live in your neighborhood: Tri-Taylor/Medical District, Little Italy/UIC, ABLA/University Village, East Pilsen, West Pilsen, outside the UIC Area…

Pray for forgiveness for ways we’ve sinned with food/alcohol/drugs and ask God’s help to change something you’ve been convicted by…

Pray for our church to be filled with the Spirit…

Pray for opportunities to witness to the superior pleasure of Christ to those who get drunk at the company Christmas party or high as marijuana is becoming legal…

Don’t forget to invite a friend to dinner and a movie tomorrow (10/12) at The Meeting Place. Fall themed food and fellowship starts at 5:00 PM. Then American Gospel will show afterwards.

This Sunday (10/13) the Marathon will make it harder to get to corporate worship, but not impossible. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Plan ahead. And walk if you can.

Spots are filling up fast for Dinners for 8! Sign up here if you haven’t already.

PRELUDE – “No One Higher” by Heath Balltzglier, Seth Condrey, and Steve Fee

WELCOME & CALL TO WORSHIP

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,

teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,

singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,

with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

And whatever you do,

in word or deed,

do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Song-

““Holy Holy Holy”” by John Bacchus Dykes and Reginald Heber

CONFESSION OF SIN- From Calvin’s Geneva Liturgy of 1543

Lord God,

eternal and almighty Father:

We acknowledge before your holy majesty that we are poor sinners,

conceived and born in guilt and in corruption,

prone to do evil,

unable of our own power to do good.

Because of our sin,

we endlessly violate your holy commandments.

But, O Lord, with heartfelt sorrow we repent

and turn away from all our offenses.

We condemn ourselves and our evil ways, with true sorrow

asking that your grace will relieve our distress.

Have compassion on us, most gracious God, Father of mercies,

for the sake of your son Jesus Christ our Lord.

And in removing our guilt,

also grant us daily increase of the grace of your Holy Spirit,

and produce in us the fruits of holiness and of righteousness

pleasing in your sight:

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON- Deuteronomy 30:4-6

If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven,

from there the LORD your God will gather you,

and from there he will take you.

And the LORD your God will bring you

into the land that your fathers possessed,

that you may possess it.

And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.

And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring,

so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

that you may live.”

Song-

Be Magnified” by Lynn DeShazo

PRAYER

CHILDREN’S BLESSING & DISMISSAL  – Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death,

but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Song-

Speak O Lord” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

SCRIPTURE READING  – “Amos 8:4-14”

SERMON (The Darkest Day)

LORD’S TABLE

Songs-

The Power of the Cross” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder” by John Newton and Laura Taylor

OFFERING

Man of Sorrows” by Philip Paul Bliss

BENEDICTION

ANNOUNCEMENTS

POSTLUDE – “Sing to the King” by Billy Footeon

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Relationships & Conflict”

October 9, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

Songs – #11 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” & #397 “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

Testimonies – What is something that you have read in God’s Word lately that has hit you?

Teaching

Recap

Can someone explain what Winsomely Weird means??

We’ve overviewed the concept, then talked about authority and purpose.

Our authority is not the world. Our authority is not ourselves: either our reason or our experience (how I think or how I feel). Rather, our authority is God, as he has revealed himself in Scripture.

And our purpose is God. Our purpose is not self-actualization, self-fulfillment, self-promotion. We live for God’s glory and others’ good… and find our true selves in the process.

Then last week we ran the concept of speech through that grid: weird yet winsome, based on the authority of the Bible and for a noble purpose. After I left I thought of another negative use of our speech that I forgot to mention – quarrelling. Quarreling is a major category in the Bible. Here’s just one example: Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:14 to “charge [people] before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” Using our tongues to fight is a bad use of our speech.

The world loves to fight, to argue, to debate and bicker. Have you noticed? Just listen to a ‘talk show’. But Christians’ speech is to stand out in this matter. I think this may be one of the biggest areas currently where Christians are not distinct. Christian Twitter is full of quarreling. Paul tells Titus to “remind [people]… to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us” (Tit. 3:1-5).

So there you have another subcategory of speech in which we should be weird to the world – not being quarrelsome. And that leads us perfectly into today’s topic: relationships and conflict.

Conflict

Let’s actually take the topic of conflict first. James asks in James 4:1 – “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?” And then he gives the answer, “Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel” (James 4:1-2). So interpersonal conflict comes from passions, desires within us that are out of whack. Remember what the purpose of the unregenerate world is? SELF! I want to please myself. Other people get in the way of that, and so there is tension, conflict, hurt feelings or worse – violence. That’s the way of the world.

Now, the believer still has these passions within him or her. But he or she also has the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is working to put those passions in their proper place. Instead of interpersonal conflict, we are called to an internal conflict, to fight, to wage war against the passions and desires of the flesh. This is what Galatians 5:16ff is about. There Paul lists 15 works of the flesh. Now here are 8 of them (more than half!): enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy. Those are all words describing conflict. Did it ever strike you how much the Bible identifies sin with people not getting along?

On the contrary, notice how much of fruit of the Spirit applies to relationships: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. The sweet fruit of the Spirit is a people who are not at odds with everyone.

Now, the reality is that because we still struggle with the flesh, we are not perfect. We still have conflicts with others. We’re sinners; they’re sinners. We can be irritable and easily annoyed, prideful and argumentative, selfish and unthoughtful… and so we can sadly have fights. But what do we do? We reconcile.

The Holy Spirit will not allow us to be okay with broken relationships but will push us towards reconciliation. Jesus taught – “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24). Christianity is all about reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18 – “God… through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” We offended God and sinned against him, but he took the initiative to seek us out and bore the cost of our sin himself to restore us to right relationship with him. And so we who have experienced that, of all people, will be peacemakers, laying aside our wounds and grudges and bending over backwards to reconcile.

Is there anyone you need to be reconciled to right now? Ask the Spirit to bring to mind any situations, any people from your past or your present that you have a broken relationship with, that God wants you to seek reconciliation with…

Now sometimes it’s not possible. It takes some willingness on behalf of the other party. That’s why Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Do all you can.

And reconciliation doesn’t always mean restored trust. It may not be possible to be restored to regular contact. And it doesn’t mean there are no consequences. I think of cases of abuse and unrepentant, gross sin. But it does mean no malice; we hate nobody. We don’t retaliate (“To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also;” Lk. 6:29). And we don’t take revenge, either by our own hands or even in our hearts. In the next verses in Romans 12 Paul says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Rom. 12:19-20). We leave it with God and love all people, even our enemies.

And that is totally compliant with reporting to the civil authorities. That’s where Paul goes next in Romans 13. The government can enact God’s vengeance on someone. But we can’t. We saw this beautifully illustrated last week in the Botham Jean case, when the brother of the murder victim hugged the convicted killer in court and told her about Jesus. The state serves justice; but we extend grace. Now that’s winsomely weird. It doesn’t come from us, but from the power of the Holy Spirit.

Because of our experience of the gospel of grace, believers in Jesus are to be weird in the world because of the way we deal with conflict. We fight our sin instead of fighting each other. And when we do have grievances, we pursue reconciliation. We repent regularly and forgive freely. We have humility to see the log in our own eyes and not focus on the specks in others’ (see Mt. 7:3-4). We know that we need forgiveness all the time from God and his mercy never runs out, so we extend that to others. After spending some time with Jesus and catching on to this radical concept of conflict resolution, “Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ [And] Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times’” (Mt. 18:21-22). It’s crazy, but such grace is really what the world is yearning for, and when they see it in us it is winsome.

Relationships

So now let’s talk about relationships more generally. How does the world, for the most part, think of relationships? I say ‘for the most part’ because I want to acknowledge that there is a lot of common grace in the world and as a result there are many beautiful examples of relationships even among pagans. Non-Christians can experience healthy, loving relationships. But there is still a predominant way of thinking about relationships that prevails and permeates our culture. How would you describe it?

I think for most people, most of the time relationships are characterized as selfish, idolatrous, and convenient.

Selfish. Remember: the world’s purpose is to live for Self. Relationships then become accessories for self-fulfillment. So we pick our friends based on how they make us feel. Are they fun? Do they make me cool or connected? Or are they like me? If I have to be with other people, I want it to be as much like looking in a mirror as possible – same life stage, same age, same gender, same values, same interests, same culture. Friends are supposed to make life fun. And when it isn’t, I want friends who will be there for me. It might sound good, but it’s really still a self-centered motive. I want relationships that are some benefit to me. These leads to the next characterization of worldly relationships…

Idolatrous. Because the world does not know God, at least as the soul’s delight, constant companion, most intimate and durable and important relationship, then it looks to other things to try to fill that role. The world wants out of other people what they cannot ultimately give. We want friends and family to give us an identity, to give us joy, to make us complete. We’re aching for that experience of connection but because we refuse to find it in God we attempt to get it from other people, but that is a lot of pressure to put on relationships. And that’s why many people are very disappointed in their relationships – because they’ve looked for too much from them.

Convenient. And so, ironically, we treat people as expendable. The world views relationships as items of convenience. And if they become inconvenient, fail to fulfill us, don’t serve our selfish ends any more, we bail. Many people in our mobile society don’t have long-lasting relationships. Maybe a lot of Facebook friends, but not people that I’m actually responsible to and for.

Selfless (instead of selfish). On the flipside, followers of Christ are to view relationships as opportunities to be selfless. Philippians 2:3-5 – “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” What was Jesus like? “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve” (Mk. 10:45). He didn’t seek out the cool people who could do something for him. He went after all kinds of people and loved them. He said, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you” (Lk. 14:12-14). That’s pretty weird, but the world will notice.

God-centered (instead of idolatrous). The only way we can do this is if we have been captivated by God and find in him our deepest fulfillment. Then everything else becomes subservient to God and not a surrogate god. I’m not trying to get something out of my relationships that I haven’t gotten from God. And then my relationships can all be in some way or another, pointing me back to God. I don’t become a Father to have little kids who make me feel good (HA!); I become a Father to get to know more of God the Father’s heart…

Committed (instead of convenient). A Christian knows the faithfulness of the Lord, that he has called you his friend (Jn. 15:15). And so he seeks to be a friend like that. Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” We aren’t just in it for when it’s convenient for us, but there through it all.

This is what church is supposed to be. It’s not a place to be with people who are like you and make your life easier. It’s a place for Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free, male, female… to serve each other and learn to lay their lives down for each other. Ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for your church.

And church is about God. It’s not there to meet your deep longing for companionship and fulfillment. It’s there to point you to the only One who can, the only One who can be with you 24/7, the only One who can truly get you and satisfy you. All of our relationships in the church are to be geared towards helping each other locate God in our lives.

When that is the case, lo and behold, you will find deep relationships. But they can only come as a gift from God that you are able to let go of. And they only happen after you make a commitment. This is what church membership is. You may not make me feel all excited, you may be hard to love, but I’m going to commit myself to you, to pray for you, to meet with you and worship God together, to be there for you, even though I may have never have picked you as a friend. And in doing so we participate in something profound and otherworldly.

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1Jn. 4:20).

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body” (Col. 3:12-15).

And a church – rag tags serving each other, centered on God, and sticking it out even when it’s hard – is extremely winsome. That’s what Jesus was getting at when he prayed – “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn. 17:20-21).

Really fast, maybe you thought this was going to be about dating. Everything I’ve said above applies to romantic relationships. The world by and large views the purpose of dating selfishly – I want someone that makes me feel the tingles. But we want someone to love. I remember when I first met Andrea I thought she was a certain person that I found attractive. On the second or third date I started to notice that the first time we met she was just having a really great day. In fact, her struggles are things that naturally turn me off. And I had a choice to make right then and there. Break it off and keep looking for this imaginary dream girl. Or dig in and love a real girl. It’s not easy, but it’s awesome!

The world thinks that a soul-mate can complete you. But we approach marriage as a means to the end of picturing the ultimate relationship, that of Christ and his Bride, the Church.

And the world views even marriage as something that can be discarded. Divorce is commonplace. Whereas we believe that marriage is a commitment for better or worse, in sickness and health, no matter what, till death parts us.

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Fitness; Bioethics; Gender, Sexuality, & Family; Drugs & Alcohol; Entertainment; Work, Money & Possessions…

Prayer – Count off 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Get in groups with others who have the same number as you.

Pray for God to help you reconcile with someone you have a broken relationship with…

Pray for supernatural strength to love others who are different from you…

Pray for our church to demonstrate a ‘compelling community’ to the world…

Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Speech”

October 2, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

“Let the words of my mouth

and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight,

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

– Psalm 19:4

Songs – #104 “Come, Thou Fount” & #49 “O for a Thousand Tongues”

Testimonies – How can you encourage the church with something you’ve seen God do lately? [ABC]

Teaching

Recap

This is our third Midweek Meeting. If you missed the first two, allow me to briefly recap, because everything else we do this fall will be run through a grid that we established the first two weeks.

We’re calling this series ‘Winsomely Weird’. Winsomein the world, engaged, rubbing shoulders with the lost with love, not sequestered in a holy huddle. Weird – not of the world, distinct, different, holy, peculiar, not just going right along with the flow of the fallen world. Winsomely weird.

Last week we saw how we as the church are to be winsomely weird when it comes to our authority and our purpose. Our authority is not our Tradition or our Thoughts or Feelings. We don’t take our cues from what our culture says. Our authority is God. And the only way for that to really work is to have a written revelation from God. It can’t be subjective personal impressions – “I sense God telling me this;” “Well, I feel God telling me this.” Submitting to Scripture makes us weird, but it doesn’t have to make us repulsive. It’s actually a strangely beautiful way to live, under God’s ancient authority and not setting oneself up as the authority.

And then with regard to purpose – the world lives for the goal of pleasing Self. Express yourself, defend yourself, love yourself… But we live for the honor of the One who lived and died for us. It’s a noble cause that is bigger than the small pursuit of Self, but it will definitely make us stand out.

A Foreign Language

Today’s topic, at your request, is speech, the way we talk. You’ve heard how the term ‘barbarian’ came to be, right? The Greeks and Romans listened to the foreign cultures talking and it just sounded like gibberish to them: bar bar bar bar to them. So they called them barbarians. They talked weird. Likewise, Christians, who are citizens of heaven, speak with a strange tongue to the ears of this world. People will think we talk weird. They will notice our accent. “You’re not from round here, are you?” “No, no I’m not.” We’re aliens and strangers. And that will make many mad – “Go back to where you came from.”

But, have you ever heard a foreign language that you didn’t really understand, but it sounded kind of cool? Maybe even made you want to learn it? That’s what the language of the kingdom of God is like. Weird, but winsome, intriguing.

The Word of God on the Words of His People

If the Bible is our authority, we must look to God’s Word to tell us how our words should be winsomely weird. And the Bible actually has a lot to say about this topic. There’s no way I can cover it all here. If you want, do a search of all the times that ‘lips’, ‘mouth’, or ‘words’ occurs in Proverbs. It’s a major theme!

First off, we learn from the Bible that words are powerful and they matter. Genesis 1 – “And God said, ‘Let there be…’ and there was…” Psalm 33:9 – “He spoke, and it came to be.” God’s words have creative power, and so do ours to a lesser extent, of course, but potent nonetheless. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is not true! Words have the ability to impact people, negatively and positively. And we will be held accountable for our words – “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Mt. 12:36).

Let’s look at some of the negative uses of words that the Bible mentions, ways that the world talks that the church shouldn’t imitate?

LYING Let’s start with an obvious one. The 9th commandment – “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The world uses words to try to bend the truth to suit themselves. We deceive, we spin, we flatter, we are selective in what we say… all designed to protect ourselves and manipulate others to do what we want. Do you know people that you just can’t quite totally trust? What does Jesus mean in Matthew 5:37 when he says to his followers: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” We are supposed to be weird in the world by being people who just tell the truth; we aren’t hiding or positioning or smooth talking… But this makes us winsome because it comes from someone who is secure in who he or she is in Christ; people who twist the truth are really insecure.

GOSSIPPING How much conversation among people at your work is about other people? If you take gossip away from most conversations, there’s not much left. Dishing gossip: Did you hear about…? Or digging for gossip: What’s so-and-so been doing lately? You want to know something privileged and if you do it makes you feel important to let other people know you know it. Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (NIV). The world feasts on juicy gossip. We are will be thought weird if we say something like, “I don’t think we should be talking about this.” Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (NIV). Abstaining from gossip will ultimately make us winsome because people will realize that they can trust us.

GRUMBLING So if you take gossip away from water cooler conversations AND you also take away grumbling you really don’t have much left. Have you noticed how easy it is to slip in to griping about something – the weather, your boss, how much sleep you got, this, that…? The world conditions us to complain. To complain is cool. If you ask someone how they’re doing, most likely you’re going to get back some kind of complaint. Philippians 2:14-15 – “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Not grumbling will really make you stand out, but really who wants to be around someone who is always negative? Not joining in with cynical grumbling will be winsome, if a bit weird.

BOASTING So you’re sitting around the break room at the office and nobody is allowed to lie, gossip or grumble. Now take away boasting and bragging. Jude 16 talks about “grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; [and] loud-mouthed boasters…” The world loves to turn everything back to ourselves – to name drop, make sure people know what we know or what we’ve done, talk about our own experiences, our kids. We should stand out by being humble. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). But this is really winsome because, c’mon who really wants to be around people who are stuck on themselves?

COARSE JOKING So you’re in the locker room. No falsehoods allowed. No gossip. No grumbling. No boasting. And then you take away coarse joking! What could possibly be left? Ephesians 5:4 is very clear about this – “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place.” That’s not how God’s people should talk. The world talks about inappropriate things all the time – off color humor, lewdness, sex… “In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (Col. 3:7-8). The world will think we are prudes – C’mon! Lighten up! But they will notice that we don’t laugh at the jokes and don’t join in.

CUSSING And then there’s cussing. Can Christians say cuss words? Yes. But. Have you ever heard someone who’s vocabulary seems very limited? It happens among educated and non-educated alike, but every other word is a swear word. I think Christians should stand out among their peers by not using words that the world itself deems profanity. There is not a Bible verse that says, “Thou shalt not use the s-word or drop the f-bomb.” They are culturally defined words. But here I think two principles are helpful. The first is that of self-control. Control your tongue. Don’t blurt out expletives in anger or frustration when you lose your filter. It’s good to strengthen your filter and not let your lips be loose. The second is the principle of the weaker brother. Are all words the same? Yes, but to many, many people there are certain words that are off limits and would wound their consciences and cause them to stumble (Rom. 14). So be willing to give up your freedoms to not give offense. And I think it does more to our witness to stand out by not using swear words than it helps to join in using them. But wisdom is needed: are you trying to be cool in the world’s eyes by cussing? Or do you have a good reason to use a certain word.

Lastly, on the negative side of words, I would point out that there’s a danger in just talking too much. Proverbs 10:19 – “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Just venting, yacking, blabbering, talking too much, running at the mouth can be a problem. I think this has a big application to our online life – blogs, Twitter, Facebook… Some people are just saying too much and need to hold their tongue. Choose your words wisely.

James 3:3-12 –

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

This brings us to the positive side of our words, our tongue, our mouths, our speech. If you can’t lie, gossip, grumble, boast, tell crude jokes, or cuss, what can you do? Just sit and say nothing? What is the tongue for? We saw last week that the world lives from Self and to Self. The purpose of the world’s words is to make Self look better, build up Self by tearing down others, draw attention to Self… But for Christians, our purpose is the glory of God and good of others. So we use our words to worship, to edify, and to evangelize.

WORSHIP I could pick one of hundreds of verses about this. Here’s one – “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you” (Ps. 63:3). We are to sing his praises, speak of his wonders, ascribe glory due to him… The commandment to not use the Lord’s name in vain is a commandment to positively use our mouths to make much of him.

EDIFY Edify means to build up, specifically other believers. We are to use our lips to love others. Ephesians 4:29 is so helpful here – “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” We should use our words to encourage, teach, correct, affirm, rebuke, instruct, comfort each other. Isaiah 50:4 – “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.”

EVANGELIZE Paul says, “[Pray] for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19-20). Our mouths were made to share the gospel with others. The gospel is a word, that must be vocalized.

By the authority of God’s Word, Christians will be weird in their use of words. We will not join in with the worlds lying, gossiping, grumbling, boasting, joking, cursing, and just frivolous jabbering jabbering. Instead, we will use our mouths to worship, edify, and evangelize. We will “let [our] speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6). Is there a category I have missed??

Finally, I want to point out that we can’t just bite our tongues or force ourselves to say the right things. That is fake and won’t work. I want to remind us of what our Lord said – “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” The words of our mouths reveal what is in our hearts. So we need (a) new hearts, but God’s grace, and (b) to keep hiding God’s word in our hearts (see Ps. 119:11), so that what overflows out of it is good, especially the gospel word of grace.

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Fitness; Bioethics; Gender, Sexuality, & Family; Drugs & Alcohol; Entertainment; Relationships & Conflict; Work, Money & Possessions…

Prayer – Get together into groups: people born in the West, people born in the Midwest, people born in the South, people born in the East, people born outside the United States…

Pray for forgiveness for the ways that we have joined in the way the world talks…

Pray for opportunities to edify others in the body…

Pray for boldness to open our mouths and declare gospel…

From @immanuelchicago on Twitter

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